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Public option likely to be removed from healthcare overhaul

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Chances for a so-called “public option” — under which the government would set up competitors to private health insurers — appear to be dimming.

With recent hard-edged comments by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who avers that he will vote to filibuster any bill that contains a public-run health insurer, moderates have been meeting to hammer out a deal. And a new alternative, according to Politico, has emerged.

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Under the Democrats’ new plan, the government would create a national health insurance plan similar to those offered federal employees. It would replace the so-called “opt-out” version of the public option advocated by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

“Seems to me it would be in lieu of the public option,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) — a public option opponent and former insurance executive — is quoted as saying. He added that Reid’s “opt-out” idea “is no longer being talked about.”

The plan would be run by the Office of Personnel Management, which currently manages the federal plan offered to members of Congress. All of the insurance plans would be offered by not-for-profit private healthcare companies.

A Democratic aide quoted by Politico suggested that the new proposal could be used to sway progressives, who might be “tricked” into believing that a government plan run by private companies was a public option.

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“The proposal under consideration can be said to provide access to the same type of insurance plans that members of Congress and federal employees get. People think of that as government health insurance; progressives could portray this in the same vein,” a Democratic Senate aide was quoted as saying. “But moderates can simultaneously point to the fact that the government isn’t the payer and say competition was enhanced without growing the government.”

Even so, the opt-out public option probably wouldn’t have been a public option after all, even though it would have been more damaging to insurance company’s bottom lines. In October, the Washington Post reported that the public option was likely to be managed by private insurers.

“The public option would effectively be just another insurance plan offered on the open market,” the paper said. “It would likely be administered by a private insurance provider, charging premiums and copayments like any other policy. In an early estimate of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that fewer than 12 million people would buy insurance through the government plan.”

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Millions around the world joined #ClimateStrike — demanding bold climate action

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Masses of children skipped school Friday to join a global strike against climate change that teen activist Greta Thunberg said was "only the beginning" in the fight against environmental disaster.

Some four million people filled city streets around the world, organizers said, in what was billed as the biggest ever protest against the threat posed to the planet by rising temperatures.

Youngsters and adults alike chanted slogans and waved placards in demonstrations that started in Asia and the Pacific, spread across Africa, Europe and Latin America, before culminating in the United States where Thunberg rallied.

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Trump announces new sanctions on Iran — and deploys US troops to the Middle East

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The United States announced Friday that it was sending military reinforcements to the Gulf region following attacks on Saudi oil facilities that it attributes to Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Tehran.

Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.

The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran's central bank after US officials said Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which triggered a spike in global crude prices.

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‘Do a lot of stupid sh*t as quickly as possible’: Ambassador Power breaks down ’The Trump Doctrine’

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The former ambassador to the United Nations explained "The Trump Doctrine" during a Friday evening interview with comedian Bill Maher on HBO's "Real Time."

Samantha Power, the author of the new book, The Education of an Idealist, was asked by Maher about the foreign policy mantra of the Obama administration.

"Obama's foreign policy doctrine was famously summarized as 'don't do stupid sh*t," Maher noted. "Trump's, of course, is 'Do stupid sh*t.'"

"Do stupid sh*t as quickly as possible," Power clarified.

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